Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Bill Cole
Full Legal Name: William Cole
Date of Birth: 11/24/1958
Occupation & Employer: Software Architect/Consultant
Years lived in Wake County: 20
1. What do you believe are the most important issues facing Wake’s Soil & Water District? What are your top three priorities in addressing these issues?
The most important issues I see for Wake County are:
1. Managing our water resources (both above and below ground)
In the coming decades, fresh water will be more valuable than oil. We need to be thinking now about preserving both the quantity and quality of our fresh water supplies.
2. Advocating Urban (Suburban) Conservation
For an urbanized region like Wake County, the major source of water pollution comes not from industry or agriculture, but from suburban rainwater run-off. Increasingly this takes the form of fertilizer pollution from over-application of lawn chemicals. Education is a key component to mitigate this problem. And I see the District having a major role in this area.
3. Promoting Local Foods for regional farmers.
This cuts to both the long-term health of citizens, and to our local economy. Strengthening Farm to Market cooperatives is a key building block towards this end.
2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be an effective district supervisor? This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.
I have been both a small business owner, and a community volunteer organizer for local non-profits. This gives me a unique perspective on developing potential public-private partnerships for District initiatives.
3. What is your vision for water quality improvement programs? What are the funding issues with those programs and how can the district address them?
I see education being a critical component to water quality improvement. Trying to regulate the sources of pollution in urban areas is of limited value when addressing issues surrounding individual homeowners.
Funding is a difficult challenge right now. It is hard to justify conservation dollars when competing with essential services (police, fire, ambulance, etc.). Presently our biggest challenge is to preserve the funding we have, with the hopes that an improving economy will provide an opportunity to expand funding options in the coming years.
4. Tell us about the issues facing urban and rural residentsthey are very differentand how the district is addressing them.
They are different, but it’s a question of emphasis. Wake County presently has only 800 Farms, but over 800,000 residents. Though we need to maintain our agricultural services, expanding our offerings to the Urban population is the greatest priority.
5. How does the district conduct its the stream restoration projects? How are streams prioritized? Tell us what streams are at the top of the list, what has been done to restore them and what is left to do?
Unfortunately, much of our Stream restoration efforts have been reduced by budget funding cuts at the Federal and State level. Continued urbanization will require new stream buffering and restoration projects in the future. Right now, our emphasis is on the Little River area basin, which will be the site of Raleigh’s new water reservoir. Unzoned/unrestricted growth in the Little River area is driving the priority of our efforts here.
6. What can the district doing to protect farmland? Are the districts efforts sufficient? Evaluate the success of the program and what can be improved?
District efforts to date have been quite successful due to the Agricultural District funding initiatives (originated by Wake County years ago). For the future, I believe that Land Conservation/easements are a critical priority, as they help mitigate unrestrained development, and preserve farmland/open space within our County.
7. Many Wake residents don’t know what the Soil and Water District is, or what it does. How do you propose to educate and engage Wake residents about the district’s work?
This is a real problem – one I face almost daily when talking with people about the District and our programs. Really, our main focus here should be increasing our Environmental Education programs, because they indirect inform about our mission at the same time.